The proposed $3 billion gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida got a boost Wednesday when a key Senate panel approved it and another related gambling measure.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee, which oversees gambling in Florida, approved both measures (SB 7072, SB 7074) with four senators opposed: Republicans Aaron Bean of Fernandina Beach, Anitere Flores of Miami, Kelli Stargel of Lakeland and Democrat Gwen Margolis of Miami.

That panel was initially the only “committee of reference” for the measures, which were began as proposed committee bills. That means they next head to Senate President Andy Gardiner, who will designate at least one other committee to review them.

Senators also discussed and approved a raft of changes that, among other things, would expand slot machines beyond South Florida, lower the effective slots tax rate and clarify that fantasy sports play is not gambling as it’s defined in Florida.

The package is bitterly opposed by the horse and dog racing industry, which fears it will be killed off if the bills are made law, and gambling opponents.

John Sowinski of Florida’s No Casinos anti-gambling expansion group told FloridaPolitics.com after Wednesday’s meeting that the compact “is certainly an expansion of gambling, (but) the implementing bill is an explosion.”

Committee chair Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, told reporters that although there’s chance the Compact may not be approved by the Legislature this session, “this is a work in progress … I suspect the final landing place, if there is a final landing place, will look a little different.”

We’ll have more on this story later.

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